In the past two budgets, Governor Walker has attempted to eliminate the popular Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin program. In each of these cases, legislative Republicans have swooped in to save this successful, proven program in order to receive praise from Wisconsinites. Little did the public know that this act was all for show.
Unfortunately, it has come to light that legislative Republicans have not been investing in the Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin program as promised. Instead, they are raiding the program funds to cover the costs of a tax cut for the wealthy and expansion of the unaccountable voucher program statewide. In a recent Joint Finance Committee hearing, Republican members voted unanimously to break the promise made in the 2011-2013 Republican budget to invest in the Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin program by pulling the funds.
Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin is a $200,000 grant program administered by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection. This comprehensive economic development program was designed to increase the local sales of agricultural food products grown within the state by supporting efforts of farmers to develop additional markets for agricultural products. In the first two years of the Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin program, grants resulted in $2.7 million in new local food sales and $600,000 in new investment. Additionally, over 1,200 Wisconsin producers have benefited from the grants, and dozens of other jobs have been created and retained in the state.
Click here for more information about buying local from the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection.
Farmer's markets are the most prominent example of the development of local and regional food systems. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service, which annually catalogs all operating farmer's markets in the U.S., farmers markets increased nationally from about 2,900 in 2000 to approximately 6,100 in 2010. As of the 2010 survey, Wisconsin ranked 8th in the U.S. in the number of farmers markets it offers with 204.
Buying local is good for all of us, as it not only helps inject our economy with a much-needed financial boost, but it also increases job opportunities for our neighbors. In the end, buying local has benefits that greatly outweigh the costs. This commitment to buying local products and frequenting locally-owned businesses is exactly what Wisconsin needs during this time of economic uncertainty. This recent bait and switch by legislative Republicans to raid the Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin program is bad for local businesses and bad for our Wisconsin economy.
Thursday, August 1, 2013
From the weekly e-newsletter from Senator Chris Larson: